The Googegs - Strangers in the World

The Googegs - Strangers in the World

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Living the Life

I am going to state the obvious here. We are an adoptive family. We have adopted 6 of our 8 children and they have all come in sets of two. I will tell you that I love my adopted children just as much as my biological children. In fact, I just love my children.  However, loving and parenting are two different things. I love them equally, but I must parent them uniquely.

Raising these children has been quite a ride and I do mean a very twisty roller coaster ride. Most of my adopted kids have experienced varying levels of neglect. Some neglect severe enough that at first the children had no desire for physical touch or refused any eye contact. Reactive Attachment Disorder stopped in for a dance at our house. A lot of my children have been exposed to, experienced or were pretty much totally traumatized, from the domestic violence in their homes of origin. All of my adopted children are dealing with loads of grief and trauma from losing everything they have ever known or loved to be sent to our home. I also have biological children who asked for and agreed to every adoption -- even after strapping in for the roller coaster ride more than once. They wanted all the children as much as Jerome and I did.

So, if you saw us at Walmart or the grocery store, we would probably look pretty normal. But how this plays out in the day to day life at home is all but "normal" in the sense of "normal" that most families would have. I am not the only one -- I read a few blogs that keep me inspired from Moms like me who are doing their best. There is a plethora of books and websites and researchers who deal with adoptive families and things like ODD, ADHD, RAD, PTSD... and a lot of other initials.

I would like to give you a little peek at some things we have come across with various children at various times over the past 9 years.

Pee = Power You know you can never control what goes in or what comes out of a child. Believe it or not urinating is a huge tool for a kid feeling a ton of loss. Bed wetting is par for the course, but I am talking about wetting on purpose when fully awake well after potty training years.. Like, when the child is really mad, or maybe you have an important appointment, or you have just walked into a place with a "no public restrooms" sign up. 

Food Food issues tend be high on the list. We have experienced gorging until vomiting. Stealing food or candy in the middle of the night and HYPER focus on food. Also, hoarding or hiding food in the bedroom.

Resistance Sounds like normal kids not wanting to obey. However, it is beyond that. Left is right, black is white, all day long to the extreme. If I say sit down for dinner, a child may approach the table. Sit in your chair please, may mean the child will kneel or squat in their chair. All day -- every request -- it's pretty tiring.

Screaming Lots of screaming. Very loud, very long, very ugly.

Destruction Meaning that if the kid is having a bad or mad day, something is going to get broken.

Manipulation Wow,this one is subtle. The most amazing thing is how young children can work this one. They can say anything sweet and nice and bammo! Everything turns around in a minute. Anyone outside the family sees all the sweet nice, very compliant, very sweet child. Even Jerome gets a different view -- when he pulls out of the driveway for work; the gloves are off. Very frustrating trait when teaching school. Do they know the answer -- or do they just want to work me today? Here's a great example. Counting --I have watched this child count all the time. Can you give me two clothespins?, one? this time three?  She can do this with no problem. Ask her to do this in a "school" setting. It is like she never heard it before.

Strange Talking It can be hard to get a straight answer out of some children. After awhile I am not sure what we are talking about. Random talking about strange things -- keeps people at a comfortable distance.

Chaotic Thinking When your brain has laid down some of its growth in very chaotic circumstances, that chaos doesn't necessarily disappear. Some children have to be told over and over again to work one thing at a time -- finish! -- before taking up another task. It can be difficult for them to "think of something to do". At times they can't seem to develop their own person. They can just wander around doing what other people do.

If I think hard enough I could probably make a longer list. My point in writing this post is not to complain about my kids, but hopefully to educate those who haven't considered the challenges of parenting traumatized kids, or maybe encourage some other families -- you are not alone.

So why do it? Why adopt kids with problematic backgrounds? They are worth it. There is no other answer. When I think of what Christ did for me on the cross I know that loving children with challenges is a small thing. I was not worth it, my behavior was not looking promising .. but he died for me and he took my place on a cross before I could understand that I needed him to do it. So, every kid is worth the "hard" it takes to raise them.

I have another list in my head too. It's those moments that tell me that despite my weak abilities, healing is occurring. Like the time my son looked me in the eye with a smile and instead of saying those little "I Love You" words that we hope for he said, "Mama, YOU love ME!!!"

Yes, I do, I most certainly do.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

God Writes the Adventure Story

These past few months have been an exercise in riding the adventure with God. We have made a lot of plans. However, God has faithfully directed our steps. We really wanted to go to an ATI conference, but we weren't sure how our new lovelies would handle a conference vacation. Then their adoption finalization date was set right for the middle of the conference. Yes, Lord, you answered that question. We took a Smoky Mountain trip instead.

The plan of having Riane's graduation party in July was rushed up to May -- before the Smoky trip -- right after the adoption. We thought July would be great; after the rush of other's parties and plenty of time for us to be out of the regular school routine to just work on the preparations. In researching her plans and applications for the Fall, she (and us) prayerfully decided Plan B should be Plan A and shortly after that Smoky trip she flew off to Chicago to work at the IBLP headquarters. It turned out to be a great experience for her. We were praising God for directing Riane's steps.

We were discussing our ideas for her to visit us during the Thanksgiving/Christmas season. We also planned a visit for us to take up to Chicago to see her. Jerome could only get enough days off for the first weekend in August. We were set to leave on a Thursday. She called the week before our trip and told us that she got another call for Plan A. We thought her application had been pulled when she made her decision in June. Again we went to prayer. In one accord we agreed that indeed this time was right and she should now accept. She made the call. She is now in the TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language) program for Taiwan. She will be teaching in the public school systems in Nantou, Taiwan.

Now our trip in August was perfect timing again. The plans we had for a visit were now steps to pack her out and prepare for her imminent (end of August) flight out to Taiwan. The ministry was able to hand deliver her visa to us before we left. Of course we have just enough time at home to re-connect, plan her vital appointments and say Goodbye for a year.

I am learning with a grateful heart, that when I prayerfully make plans, and lay them at the throne, God will write one great adventure!

Before we took off to Illinois we wanted to support something we believe in: The right to hold and express a Biblical Worldview:

Excitement was high --

Lines were long -- we sent out runners.

It was a great night.

We left for Chicago and were so grateful for the wonderful house IBLP allowed us to stay in for the weekend.

A roomy house with a huge yard. There were more beds than people!

Together again; the kids first few moments with Riane.

Riane took us on a tour of the headquarters where she has been working. She was mostly assigned to a hotel that is being renovated. Her sewing experience came in very handy. Her bosses were very sweet and very welcoming to us as we wandered through.

Mary checking out the model room.

We toured the unfinished kitchen. All my pictures were too dark except this one which includes this industrial mixer. I loved that mixer!

Riane showed us how the hotel can press things with this machine. It was so interesting to see all the inner workings of a large hotel.

After the hotel we headed over the Headquarters of the ministry. Again, after 6 years in ATI it was great to see where it all happens. Like the printing room.

All those Wisdom Booklets hot off the press.

All of it was fascinating -- even the attic library.

Riane showed us her favorite walking place by an old mill.

Then we headed to lunch at the staff center where we were able to meet some more co-workers and friends. Including a very nice chat with the author of this book:

We ended our evening having pizza and time with some of Riane's friends.

The next day, we spent seeing just a little of the city.

We took a train.

To see the Sears tower -- Now called the Willis tower. Views were fantastic. Since our last visit, they have installed see through ledges.

It's intimidating --

For me too, but I was determined to push through

Mary and I enjoyed it after all!

It was fast and furious and before you knew it -- it was time to say goodbye.

And the adventure continues

A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

4H, Fun, Friends and Food

I went into this summer figuring that I would have structure time for a lot of my kids. Some do not thrive on easy, breezy days, but need structure. So, I had plans. However, this summer has been full to the gills. I am so glad that we turned down some activities!

The older children were active in their 4H shooting sports club. They tribe + the cousins showed up for fair judging day.

Participating and doing well in shooting sports is a great learning experience, but judging is another affair. You have to present a project, dress professionally, and be able to speak well and maintain eye contact.

Mary presented in the morning and I forgot to send the camera with Jerome.  I thought they all did a great job -- Mary and Adela qualified to go to the State Fair. They had to decline because we will be out of town.

We ended up spending one day at the County fair.  First we had to stop and see the booth for their club.

County Fairs and such are brand new things to Heaven and Isaiah.

After one meltdown -- it was fun.

We had friends come and stay for a few days.

Braydon has decided he wants to try running a 5K (for FUN??!)  Jerome and Ricky decided to join him. For training they all took off for a run the other day.

Braydon easily came cruising in first.

He turned around and ran back to join his Dad.

Whew! He made it.

This weekend we are heading out to Chicago to visit Riane -- There is a whole blog post behind her story, but I will post that soon.

In true Tribe style, we can not just pack and leave on a trip. Mary and I had Dr.'s appointments and the harvest waits for no man.  Not to mention Jerome servicing the car and the tire going out on the lawnmower in the process. The kids were good natured and many hands always make the work light.

Last night they were chopping and freezing cabbage, onions and green peppers.

Today they were canning potatoes while Braydon caught up on the mowing.

I worked on packing.

Oh, and of course .... We celebrated Ricky's birthday ... he is turning 12 tomorrow when we will be on the road.

Blueberry Cheesecake!

It's been a season full of activity, but rich in love and fellowship.